MinnRoast hurts MinnPost's journalistic credibility, Nick Coleman argues

MinnPost advertises Governor Mark Dayton's appearance at MinnRoast
MinnPost advertises Governor Mark Dayton's appearance at MinnRoast

Tomorrow night is the fourth annual MinnRoast, a fundraiser for MinnPost's "non-partisan, nonprofit" brand of journalism. And former Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman argues convincingly today that the whole event compromises MinnPost's journalistic credibility.

"I draw the line at making buffoons out of ourselves, and giving the impression that we're buddies with the powerful and political types who shouldn't be calling us to find out when we're available for golf or beer," Coleman says.

MinnRoast is modeled after Washington's long-standing Gridiron Dinner, which itself has been criticized as a gross violation of journalistic objectivity. In a scathing, well-reasoned column posted today on his personal website, Coleman points out all the reasons why MinnRoast hurts MinnPost's credibility.

MinnPost is supposed to be a non-partisan, non-profit news outlet. But when most of the event sponsors lean left, that promise of objectivity is hard to believe, Coleman points out.

And when the list of sponsors includes spin-doctor Tom Horner, the former gubernatorial candidate and owner of PR firm Himle-Horner--a group that helps clients lobby for and against bills at the Legislature--it's a real problem. Even if there is no impropriety, there is the appearance of impropriety, Coleman points out.

MinnPost CEO Joel Kramer (purple pants) at MinnRoast 2010
MinnPost CEO Joel Kramer (purple pants) at MinnRoast 2010

Gov. Mark Dayton is slated to speak at tomorrow's event, so Coleman requested a press pass to cover the event. MinnPost CEO Joel Kramer turned him down three times. Here's what Kramer told Coleman:

"The President of the United States usually speaks at the Gridiron dinner in Washington, attended by many journalists," Kramer wrote to Coleman in an e-mail. "The Gridiron Club doesn't give press credentials, and neither do we. I have considered your request, and my rejection of it stands. As I said, you are welcome to purchase tickets."

Coleman makes the point that any time the governor speaks, it's newsworthy. And journalists shouldn't have to pay to cover the news.

Nor should they be cavorting like old school chums with the very elected officials they're charged with watch-dogging. As Coleman puts it, "Leave the circus for professional clowns."

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